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Holiday events in East TN: Christmas parades happening Friday

East Tennessee's most popular holiday events are coming up -- and some even start before Thanksgiving.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The holiday season is just around the corner and it's time to celebrate! 

Knoxville, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Oak Ridge have announced the schedules for their Christmas events. Light up your winter with 60-foot Christmas trees, live music, ice skating and more.

Gatlinburg's Winter Magic Kickoff

Friday, Nov. 22, 6 p.m.

Downtown Gatlinburg

Christmas is coming early to Gatlinburg with a holiday kickoff -- almost a week before Thanksgiving. It'll start at 6 p.m. with a special lighting ceremony on Ripley's Aquarium Plaza. The first sold-out Trolley Ride of Lights will begin at 6:30 p.m. Gatlinburg officials said visitors can expect live holiday performances, visits from Christmas characters, and hot chocolate.

Over at Ober Gatlinburg, the holidays start even earlier in the day. The ski area and amusement part will host its annual Back in Blue Rail Jam from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. At the Jam, competitive snowboarders can show off at the Tubing Park -- and it's free for spectators.

Christmas at Chilhowee and Capital Christmas Tree

Friday, Nov. 22, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Chilhowee Park and Exposition Center,  3301 E Magnolia Ave. 

This free event will have live music and many free activities. Pictures with Santa Claus will be available along with hot cocoa, face painting and balloon animals. There will also be train rides for all ages.

The U.S. Capitol Tree will also be at the event. The Capitol Tree is a 60-foot blue spruce that visits 30 communities before reaching its final destination of Washington, D.C. on Nov. 25. 

Tree Lighting Ceremony

Saturday, Nov. 23, 6 p.m.

The Island in Pigeon Forge

The annual celebration will have celebrity chef Paula Deen as a special guest, and The Young Fables will perform a free concert. 

Other entertainment will include an improv comedy group named the Free Daps, Greyscale Acapella group and over 70 shops, restaurants and attractions. All event festivities and parking are free.

Lights over Gatlinburg 

Nov. 27 through Jan. 31 

Gatlinburg SkyLift Park 

"Lights over Gatlinburg" will transform America's longest pedestrian suspension bridge into a winter wonderland with thousands of twinkling lights and festive decorations. 

The SkyCenter will have hot cocoa and snacks. There will also be festive trees on the SkyDeck. 

Visitors who bring a new, packaged toy to benefit the Boys and Girls Club of the Smoky Mountains will receive $4 off admission until Dec. 16. 

Fantasy of Trees

Nov. 27 through Dec. 1

Knoxville Convention Center

East Tennessee Children's Hospital presents the 35th annual Fantasy of Trees. Come and enjoy over 300 beautiful decorated trees and displays that bring in over 60,000 people every year. 

All the proceeds of this event go to the East Tennessee Children's Hospital and have raised over 8 million dollars throughout the years.

Regal Celebration of Lights

Friday, Nov. 29, 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Market Square, Market Street and Krutch Park Extension

The Regal Celebration of Lights kicks off Christmas time with live music, train rides, pictures with Santa, face painting and more. Mayor Madeline Rogero and special guests will light the 42-foot Christmas tree.

Local businesses will be doing crafts with children and Home Depot's Little Elves Workshop will be there. American Red Cross Cards for Heros will be available to make cards to be sent to our soldiers for the holidays.

WDVX Holiday Ho Ho Hoedown

Friday, Nov. 29, 6:30-9 p.m.

Market Square Stage 

Live performances by Tray Dahl, The Jugtime Ragband ad The Royal Hounds will begin at 6 p.m. Admission is free.

Holidays on Ice

Friday, Nov. 29 to Jan. 5.

Market Square 

Home Federal Bank is presenting Knoxville's open-air ice skating rink in Market Square. Standard hours will vary throughout the season. The rink will be closed on Christmas day. Tickets are $11 for adults and $8 for children.

Find out more: Market Square freezes over: Downtown Knoxville ice skating rink opens soon

Window Wonderland

Friday, Nov. 29 to Jan. 5

Downtown Knoxville

Downtown Knoxville's sidewalks will transform into a Peppermint Trail, with windows of restaurants and shops decorated for the holidays with a peppermint theme. 

Downtown Elf on the Shelf Scavenger Hunt

Nov. 29 to Jan. 5

Downtown Knoxville

Families are invited to explore downtown to find elves scattered in more than two dozen downtown businesses. Families are invited to pick up a North Pole Pass at any of the participating businesses to help guide them through the scavenger hunt.

Find out more: You better watch out: Elf on the Shelf scavenger hunt returns to Knoxville

Annual Holiday Festival of Lights

Monday, Dec. 2, 6:30 p.m.

The Cove at Concord Park

Knox County is kicking off its 21st annual festival with the help of Mayor Glenn Jacobs. Jacobs will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony and meet and greet, passing out free candy "Kanes."

This will be the first time the event is held for the entire month of December. The greenway trail will be illuminated by a sparkling light display that's coordinated to music and a number of fire pits. 

Hot drinks will be available, and Santa Claus will visit on Fridays and Saturdays. The event is free, but Knox County will also be collecting non-perishable food items for The Love Kitchen.

Oak Ridge's Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony

Friday, Dec. 6, 6:30 p.m.

A. K. Bissell Park

Oak Ridge will ring in the holidays with a tree lighting ceremony, holiday music and refreshments. The event will start at the park's outdoor pavilion stage, located behind the Oak Ridge Civic Center. If it rains, this first part of the event will take place in the Civic Center’s Shep Lauter Room.

After announcements and a music program, participants will proceed to the Secret City Commemorative Walk area on the east side of the Oak Ridge Public Library parking lot for the countdown and tree lighting. 

Knoxville Christmas Parade

Friday, Dec. 6, 7 p.m.

Church Street to Gay Street

WIVK is presenting its 47th annual Christmas Parade in downtown Knoxville. The parade includes festival floats, marching bands, nativity scenes and vintage vehicles. It will start on Church Street and travel towards Gay Street. The parade emcee will announce each unit as they pass by. 

Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade

Friday, Dec. 6, 7:30 p.m.

Gatlinburg, Baskins Creek Bypass and Hwy 321/ East Parkway

The 44th annual parade will be rolling through Gatlinburg to kick off the holiday season and the beginning of Gatlinburg Winter Magic. The parade will include a spectacular procession of holiday balloons, marching bands and floats decorated by local businesses and groups. 

WIVK Christmas Parade

Friday, Dec. 6, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Gay Street

The 47th annual WIVK Christmas Parade will feature dozen of festive floats. This holiday favorite features high school marching bands, dance groups, costumed characters, theme floats, vintage vehicles and of course, Santa Claus.

A Safety City Christmas

Saturday, Dec. 7, 5:30 to 8 p.m.

165 S. Concord St.

The Knoxville Police Department's Safety City is decked out for the holidays. Families are invited to the annual celebration for games, crafts, holiday music and a visit with Santa. The event is free to the public.

Tour de Lights

Saturday, Dec. 14, 5:30 p.m.

Downtown Knoxville

Bike Walk Knoxville is partnering with Visit Knoxville to bring the 13th annual bike ride through downtown. This unique Knoxville tradition is part parade and part bike-decorating contest. The event is free and family-friendly. Participants are encouraged to decorate themselves and their bikes to win awards.

The start and endpoint for the bike ride will be slightly different this year. They will start under the Jackson Ave. bridge and end in Market Square.

New Year's on the Square

Tuesday, Dec. 31, 10 p.m.

Market Square

Usher in the new year at Market Square with live performances from the Bicho Brothers. The ball will drop at midnight.